I would like to bring to your attention the exploitation of Zambians taking place at The Dangote Industries Zambia Ltd Cement Plant in Chief Chiwalas Area.
The Dangote Industries Zambia Ltd cement plant, which is still under construction, employs Zambians and a group of Indian expatriates who together oversee the work of the Chinese contractors. The jobs done by both the Zambians and the Indians are similar with the Zambian employees arguably doing the majority of the work. Despite this, however, there is a huge gap in remunerations between the two groups. An Indian engineer will get between K25000 and K60000 a month with all amenities such as accommodation, water, electricity and even satellite television fully paid for by the company. A Zambian engineer on the other hand gets K3000 for a junior engineer to about K15000 gross for a very experienced professional (inclusive of accommodation allowance, cost of living allowance, transport allowance etc.). Note that I speak of GRADUATE ENGINEERS here with degrees from UNZA, CBU and other respected institutions in China, The UK and South Africa getting peanuts in their own country while foreign citizens get big bucks.
The Zambians are made to sign one year contracts that not only offer little money, but have no gratuity (which I believe is against the law). In December, while the Indian expatriates were given Christmas bonuses (even though most don’t celebrate Christmas) and increases in their cost of living allowances, no such bonuses were offered to the Zambian employees. The situation is even worse with the uneducated workforce who can get as low as K200 a month which is far below the minimum wage. I believe this is unacceptable for a company of the size and stature of Dangote Industries.
Efforts to push the administration for better conditions led to the management giving increments to the Zambian workers who have stayed with the company for more than a year. These increments, however, were insultingly small ranging from K25 to K100. This corresponds to an increase of LESS THAN ONE PERCENT of the salary.
My intention is not to embarrass the company or malign it in any way, I only wish to bring to the attention of the Zambian people the kind of investment that the country is bringing in. I believe That Dangote Industries has made a huge investment that will pay dividends to not only the company but to the Zambian economy as a whole, however, I strongly feel that ANY INVESTMENT THAT COMES IN THE COUNTRY SHOULD EMPOWER ZAMBIANS ASWELL AS MAKE A MONEY FOR THE INVESTORS and that if this is not the case then there is no point allowing such investment.
The official stance of the company on the situation is that as the cement plant is not yet making money, salaries cannot be increased substantially. This seems sensible but does not explain the huge gap between expatriates and locals. If they can pay DStv for the expatriates surely they can afford decent salaries for the Zambian workforce. In any case If we allow this exception I believe we will be setting a standard for the normal operations of not only this plant but future investments as well.
Thanks for your attention.